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Old 12-05-2023, 09:23 AM   #41
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Default Re: GURPS Tactical Shooting: Extreme Conditions

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
I prefer to avoid speculation and taking sides in grumbling contests, but I can offer facts that I can confirm as an insider or that any of you could confirm with a little homework:

This is a big one!

SJ Games doesn't always offer royalties these days, but they do sometimes. Any future work that reuses content from earlier works created under royalties contracts (as were all works up until the mid-2010s) also pays royalties to the creator of the reused material. Such reuse is nigh-universal – if you're doing homework, look for "Additional Material" credits.

Anyway, royalties are paid on each copy sold. "One PDF" and "one physical book" are two copies under the law in the jurisdiction that governs SJ Games' contracts, and the company cannot get around that through discounted bundling. So, if the company owes x% and were to keep the price of the PDF + print the same as that of print alone, they'd be paying 2x%. Great for the writer, but less than great for SJ Games, who'd end up losing money on the deal.

Many other publishers do not offer royalties and/or reuse fees. Even those that do aren't all incorporated in the same U.S. state, and these sorts of contracts are governed by state laws. So, you need to compare apples to apples.

Sort of.

Many online stores require those who want to sell products through them not to undercut them. If you do business with an online store that can't or won't sell discounted bundles, then you can't sell such bundles, either, because the discount would undercut them. In most cases, there are workarounds, but they involve the online shop in question taking a bigger cut . . . which leads us back to the previous situation.

Quite a few smaller companies aren't big enough to have, say, Amazon storefronts. SJ Games is, mostly thanks to Munchkin. And yeah, Amazon is one of the shops that includes no-undercutting clauses in the fine print of some storefront deals. There are other possible deals with them and other possible online shops; so, you have to compare apples to apples once again.

SJ Games spends a lot of money here, because its editorial staff are required to do deep first-draft reviews, actual i-dotting and t-crossing editing, indexing, proofreading, and PDF reviews. Many competing companies don't do all this stuff. I can tell you for sure that quite a few edit the copy, check the PDF, and call it a day. Once editorial costs get high enough, you need to recover them somehow, so there's an incentive not to offer discounted bundles.

Yes. GURPS isn't everyone's cup of tea for many reasons that are beside the point in this sub-thread which is already beside the point. Most of its supplements don't sell all that many copies. "Giving away" free copies, even to people who've already bought copies, is less attractive in that context.

This is 100% true. Steve, personally, refuses to undercut brick-and-mortar games shops. His reasons have nothing to do with laws, contracts, or any other externally imposed rules; it's a personal code of honor, one that I support. Discounted bundles are intensely bad for brick-and-mortar shops, to the point where their owners and the distributors who do business with them take every opportunity to to say so.



In brief, while there are surely exceptions on one or two of these points, small and usually (but not always) "indie" publishers aren't paying royalties, aren't paying reuse fees, aren't paying a fairly large editorial staff for deluxe editing, aren't using large online storefronts, aren't selling in brick-and-mortar shops, and are selling single-genre (and often single-setting) games that have a clearer market than "Anything You Want. Any World You Can Imagine." Most aren't based in Texas and operating under Texas law. None are owned by Steve Jackson and share his values. Collectively, this makes them oranges to SJ Games' apples.

I do realize that from the customer's point of view, I just said, "Because reasons." Even if SJ Games were to publish all the reasons in detail and include sample contracts, copies of their distribution deals, excerpts from lawbooks, and so on, they couldn't expect the average customer to read that or care. All the customer cares about is the price. And no, I have no clever comeback to that . . . it's true, and it's one of the challenges of the time we live in.
Thanks for taking the time to explain this.
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Old 12-05-2023, 10:06 AM   #42
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Default Re: GURPS Tactical Shooting: Extreme Conditions

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Genuinely small outfits (like, umm, occasionally me) are doing it through DriveThruRPG, who have their own print on demand facility. That makes it very easy; no need to offer print codes or whatever, just sell both from inside the same site. In other words, for this purpose, the very small outfits subsume themselves into a large outfit.

I guess that, in principle, SJGames could offer PDF-and-print bundles on books they sell in both formats from that site. But they understandably prefer to sell direct through W23 where possible.
Thanks for the concrete examples, Phil. This is exactly the sort of thing I was getting at in my verbose post.
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Old 12-05-2023, 10:12 AM   #43
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Default Re: GURPS Tactical Shooting: Extreme Conditions

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Thanks for taking the time to explain this.
You are most welcome! SJ Games doesn't aim to be opaque; indeed, the company prefers transparency. But what's "obvious" at one vertex of the {creator, publisher, distributor, retailer, customer, reviewer/critic, . . .} stakeholder polygram isn't always "obvious" at the others, and things get further warped when the creator is the publisher, the publisher is one of the retailers, and so on.
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Old 12-05-2023, 11:31 AM   #44
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Default Re: GURPS Tactical Shooting: Extreme Conditions

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Anyway, royalties are paid on each copy sold. "One PDF" and "one physical book" are two copies under the law in the jurisdiction that governs SJ Games' contracts, and the company cannot get around that through discounted bundling. So, if the company owes x% and were to keep the price of the PDF + print the same as that of print alone, they'd be paying 2x%. Great for the writer, but less than great for SJ Games, who'd end up losing money on the deal.
Well, there's no reason a bundle has to be the same price as getting only the physical book. However, a realistic surcharge might reduce interest to the point that it wasn't worth the trouble to set up the bundle in the first place.
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Old 12-05-2023, 01:37 PM   #45
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Default Re: GURPS Tactical Shooting: Extreme Conditions

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Well, there's no reason a bundle has to be the same price as getting only the physical book. However, a realistic surcharge might reduce interest to the point that it wasn't worth the trouble to set up the bundle in the first place.
There are good "avoiding litigation" reasons for not discounting. Telling a writer that it's $X for a PDF and $Y for a paperback, but $(X+Y-D) for both together, is saying that we're not going to pay royalties on $D. The reaction is roughly equally bad for the 0 < D < X case and the D = X case, so we go with the D = 0 case to avoid that. We could probably write one of the other cases into the contract instead, but then we'd be sweeping the problem under the carpet of people being unwilling to sign the contract . . .
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Old 12-05-2023, 02:04 PM   #46
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Default Re: GURPS Tactical Shooting: Extreme Conditions

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
There are good "avoiding litigation" reasons for not discounting. Telling a writer that it's $X for a PDF and $Y for a paperback, but $(X+Y-D) for both together, is saying that we're not going to pay royalties on $D. The reaction is roughly equally bad for the 0 < D < X case and the D = X case, so we go with the D = 0 case to avoid that. We could probably write one of the other cases into the contract instead, but then we'd be sweeping the problem under the carpet of people being unwilling to sign the contract . . .
Playing Devil's Advocate for a moment, in an (X + Y - D) case for a bundle, SJG could still pay the writer the same royalties as if both X and Y were paid in full, soaking the cost of D. This would be beneficial if the value of D is lower than the average added revenue of people buying the bundle rather than only buying the pdf or the physical book (which would also need to factor in the loss from those who would have bought both even without the bundle, and losses from people who's budget doesn't quite let them buy the bundle this month, but they don't want to "miss out" on the bundle deal by buying first one and then the other, so they decide to save up for next month, but then wind up forgetting about it, spending their money elsewhere, or similar), but detrimental if the value of D were higher than the average net added revenue. And if SJG isn't confident in being able to guess the appropriate value for D, you can't really fault them for just opting against rolling the dice with a bundle (and that's ignoring the previous mention that Steve Jackson himself is a fan of FLGS's, and bundle deals like this hurt them).
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Old 12-05-2023, 02:13 PM   #47
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Default Re: GURPS Tactical Shooting: Extreme Conditions

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
There are good "avoiding litigation" reasons for not discounting. Telling a writer that it's $X for a PDF and $Y for a paperback, but $(X+Y-D) for both together, is saying that we're not going to pay royalties on $D.
Depends how it's written. "If you buy X, you can get Y for a discount" is no different from any other buy in bulk deal. It might turn out that the reasonable value for the discount is surprisingly small, I'm not at all convinced that any of this is a good idea, but it's certainly doable with a digital storefront.
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